The father of a 4th grader who survived the shooting is a childhood friend from the small town in Vermont where my I spent some of my formative years. He provided my sister, who was his classmate, with some details. His son was in the library when the shooting started. The librarian got all the children into a closet, shut the door, and then barricaded it by moving filing cabinets in front of it. She tried to block the actual door into the library with other boxes, and she remained outside the closet door, talking to the children. When the police arrived, she would not let them in until they managed to get their IDs where she could see them.
Think about the choice she faced. She could have gotten into the closet with the kids and maybe if the shooter came into the library he would not have thought to look in the closet. She chose to leave herself exposed, while buying precious minutes for the kids by barricading them. Extraordinary. The kindergarten teacher herded her charges into the “safe area” in the back of the classroom, and then was shot in the doorway, where she must have been trying to either rush the shooter or dissuade him. I hope these women and their selflessness are never forgotten.
My mind cycles back to these moments in the lives of ordinary adults, untrained in reacting to armed invaders, and I wonder what I would have done. So I ask, would it be wrong for police, or perhaps the military, to offer some training to the rest of us? I don’t want to carry a gun to my boring government job, but if an armed assailant entered the building, I would like to have an idea of how to maximize my chances of slowing him down. Obviously my first choice would be to hide, and I probably would not rush an armed person head on because it would be futile. But just like the passengers on the Pentagon-bound jet that did not hit its target on 9/11, I can appreciate the logic in preventing more deaths if my own is certain. I’d like to have some strategic understanding so I could avoid making matters worse and maybe even mitigate the harm.